Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"The Houseboy": the "antihero" whines, the Christmas decor looks great

A movie titled “The Houseboy” is going to get some attention. One thing you can say for this little (although fully widescreened) gay film from TLA and director Spencer Schilly is that the Christmas decorations in the row house (in Queens, NYC) of a gay couple are the most garish ever, with wonderful use of blues and violets.

But their houseboy Ricky (Nick  May) learns that they look at him as expendable (like any employer would these days).  The couple goes away and leaves Ricky the run of the house, particularly to take care of all the non-human pets. (I’ve looked after a neighbor’s fish before, when I lived in Dallas.)  The feral cats particularly need to be watched. 

Ricky starts having a parade of guests (some of them tracked down in chat rooms), for not so uplifting purposes. He annoys each one by announcing what he will do to himself Christmas Eve, out of Holiday depression – and low self-esteem for being treated as a plaything.  Toward the end (after some "crowds" of increasing size and plenty of recreational drug use), we wonder if he has any real friends who will care.  The character is tiresome because of his whininess.  That stands in stark contrast to movies like “Judas Kiss” (June 4) where there are several college-age characters all of whom are likable. In a movie like that, you know that all the characters will "amount to something".  Maybe not here. 

There is a moment when he talks on his cell phone with his “family” back in the Midwest somewhere. The mother (I presume) talks about loving the sinner but not the sin (Ricky doesn’t need that, which may help explain his staying in New York for Christmas), but also says something more profound, namely, what it is like to hold someone part of whom came from you.  Okay, Ricky was just not game for the “tree of life”, or for the entire pattern of socialization so that he could live out, over time, interdependence with others in a family.  His life has turned into a serious of physical releases.

There is a useful scene where the responsibilities of an older man with asymptomatic HIV are well acted.
       
Myspace site is here

It looks as though you can rent the film inexpensively on YouTube.

I watched this on my new DVD setup, where it looked good, but somehow the Netflix inner cover dematerialized during the “performance”, right there in the living room. It just vanished into thin air. Maybe Existence is going to fail. 

For a supplementary short film, try "Three Way Relationship" by Calum McSwiggan.

a little more equal than the one in the feature film.

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